Some of you parents now have your college student back under your roof, at least temporarily. This is a challenging season for all of us as we navigate COVID-19, so here are 10 ways you can help your college student adjust well to the move back home during this pandemic.
1. Be Accommodating.
Let them know that you understand being back under your roof for an extended amount of time will be an adjustment for them and that you want to work together to make it a comfortable transition for everyone. Be accommodating just like you would for other adult guests who visit your home. Quickly help them set up a “workable” study space: desk, lamp & office with school supplies, if needed. They have school work that still needs to get done and your student may need a new workable space to call their own.
2. Respect Their Privacy.
Ask them if there are any specific ways you can respect the level of privacy they need. Consider knocking before just walking into their room unannounced. Feel free to text them when breakfast, lunch or dinner is ready rather than delivering them personal mealtime announcements throughout the day. Think of them as a house guest or roommate with boundaries. They will appreciate your efforts to guard their personal space. Remember they have been on their own for months, even years.
3. Serve Them in Love.
Be willing to serve them in love with meals, cleaning, folding clothes. Offer to help with things they usually do for themselves by now. Yes, they are capable, but it communicates love when someone offers to lighten our load, especially when we’re stressed. However, let them keep taking care of some other basic responsibilities in order to contribute. Love on them in a variety of ways, but don’t go back to doing everything for them! They will be returning to life on their own at some point, and they need to maintain some sort of rhythm.
4. Value Their Opinions.
Invite them to choose items to be placed on the grocery list that they enjoyed at school even if it’s unhealthy or the other extreme or something you wouldn’t touch nor would anyone else in the house. This gives them a little sense of normalcy and will communicate that their needs and desires while at home are just as important as yours. You could even ask them to help you in the kitchen or even prepare a meal, especially if they still need a little at home training in that area. It never hurts to use this time to secretly help them brush up on some skills!
5. Encourage Connection.
There may be times throughout the day when everyone is busy doing their own thing and other moments when the work is complete and your college student has no idea what to do without their friends around. Encourage them to check in with their friends via FaceTime, Zoom or some way other than just texting or viewing social media posts. There’s just something meaningful about talking in real time to people face to face, even if only virtually.
6. Work Together.
Ask your talented and capable college student to work on a project with you. Tackle a project inside or outside that they may be interested in contributing to. If you help provide some ideas of things to do at home, this will give your family the opportunity to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from being productive and also working as a team to accomplish a goal.
7. Be Available.
Just be available to hang out! Take time to be intentional with them. Ask to meet with them at a convenient time for their schedule to just talk. Over dessert tends to work well! Build trust. Listen a lot. Encourage with truth. Don’t criticize and be careful how you correct them. Try to not have super strong opinions on every topic and validate where they’re coming from when you can. This can be done by simply saying, “ I could see how you’d think or feel that way.”
8. Stay Rooted.
Be sure you are renewing your own mind and heart with prayer, God’s Word, worship, Christian teaching, sermons, podcasts… Romans 12:9-21 is a very practical and helpful passage to meditate on and pray for your family.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:9-21 NLT)
9. Have Fun Together.
Do things together that you both like: movies, watching a show, board or card games, listening and dancing to music, walking, laying in sun, outdoor games, puzzles, plan a takeout meal, grab coffee or have a picnic. Encourage them to take some time to enjoy the things they rarely have time for at this stage of life, like reading, playing music, building something, hanging out with siblings, and other hobbies.
10. Make the Most of It.
Have a joyful heart (even when others do not)! They have a lot to process and life has changed suddenly for them, so “grace, grace, and a lot of space” when needed! Remind them you understand they are disappointed, that you know this is not the spring semester they thought it would be and you have compassion for that. Tell them you’d like to make the best of it and see this unexpected time together as an opportunity.